06/27/2013 2:12PM

TAA raises funds throughout Thoroughbreds’ competitive lives

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Courtesy of New Vocations
Horses graze at New Vocations in Marysville, Ohio, one of three aftercare organizations accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance so far this year.

If it takes a village to raise a child, the same is true of a Thoroughbred racehorse, with a number of individuals and groups – including stallion owners, mare owners, sales consignors and buyers, and racetracks – involved in the development of the athlete. The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has stepped in to partner with various industry stakeholders and establish a system that raises funds for Thoroughbred aftercare as horses move through the various phases of their lives.

The TAA, based in Lexington, Ky., is designed to serve as both the recognized accrediting body for Thoroughbred aftercare facilities and as a fundraising body to support those facilities. The organization was initially funded by seed money received from Breeders’ Cup Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association.

As it continues its efforts, the TAA has developed a framework that incrementally collects contributions at key points in a Thoroughbred’s development, starting at the stud farm and registry and continuing on through the auction ring and to the racetrack.

“Generally, it’s trying to get individuals to do the right thing by horses when their careers are over,” TAA Executive Director Mike Ziegler said. “It’s a simple approach: to build a broad base of participation by receiving small portions of a lot of transactions.”

That approach begins before a Thoroughbred is even born. Several stud farms, representing both prominent Kentucky outfits as well as some in regional markets, have pledged to contribute an amount matching 25 percent of a single season to each of its stallions.

Contributors include, in alphabetical order: Adena Springs; Airdrie Stud; Madeline Auerbach, who owns California sire Unusual Heat; Castleton Lyons; Darby Dan Farm; Darley Stud Management; Gainesway; Highcliff Stallions of New York; Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms; McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds; Millennium Thoroughbreds; Ocala Stud; Pin Oak Stud; Sequel Stallions of New York; Shadwell Farm; Taylor Made Stallions; Vinery New York; Walmac; and WinStar Farm.

Ziegler said the stallions from the farms that have pledged make up about 63 percent of the stallion revenue in North America.

Once foals are born and registered, another small contribution to the TAA kicks in. The Jockey Club increased fees by $25 for almost all registry-related transactions – most notably, foal registrations – beginning Jan. 1. The fee to register foals of 2013 rose from $200 to $225. That is the first increase since 2000, when the fee rose from $175 to $200 as DNA typing replaced blood typing.

“We are proud to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and feel strongly about its mission,” Jockey Club President and Chief Operating Officer James Gagliano said when the program was unveiled in October. “These very modest financial commitments at various checkpoints in a Thoroughbred’s career will make a significant difference in giving our equine athletes the lives and second careers they deserve after their racing days are over.”

Additionally, The Jockey Club has pledged to contribute $300,000 from its commercial companies in 2013 and will maintain a voluntary retirement checkoff option on foal registrations for owners and breeders to contribute to aftercare.

The contributions don’t end as a young Thoroughbred moves from its original owner or breeder to the sales ring. Fasig-Tipton, which kicks off the yearling auction season with its July sale of selected yearlings July 15 in Lexington, is one of four major sales companies to pledge support for the TAA’s efforts, along with Keeneland, Barretts Equine Ltd., and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.

These companies have enabled buyers and consignors to automatically contribute 0.05 percent of their respective purchases or gross sales to the TAA, with a voluntary opt-out provision. For example, the contribution on a yearling sold for $50,000 would be $25.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to quite a bit,” Ziegler said.

The sales companies also have pledged 0.05 percent of their gross receipts. In June, TAA announced that it had received $39,000 from the OBS March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training, representing contributions from buyers and consignors, as well as the sales company.

“We feel that establishing an automatic mechanism by which to fund aftercare is both the right thing to do and the only way to do it right,” Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning said in a release. “Our customers on both sides of every purchase share a common love for Thoroughbreds, and this systematic approach makes it easy for all to do their part in a fair and equitable manner.”

The fundraising also extends down the competitive life cycle to racetracks and programs within states that support local aftercare efforts. The Stronach Group and two of its tracks, Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., will earmark funds for organizations in California and Florida, respectively, that are accredited by the TAA. It estimates that more than $200,000 will be granted in 2013.

California facilities will receive an additional boost via the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), which will direct funds designated for California-based facilities to those accredited by the TAA, in excess of $400,000.

“A lot of tracks are already doing the right thing,” Ziegler said. “We also started a fan-contribution program, probably a bit late, for last year’s Breeders’ Cup, so we’ll revisit that.”

Through its various fundraising efforts, the TAA hopes to generate an annual aftercare budget of $2.5 to $3 million, which will be distributed to accredited facilities via a process still to be determined.

To be considered for accreditation, facilities must possess 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status; must have been operational for at least three years; must care for a resident population of at least five horses, with at least half being Thoroughbreds; and must follow a euthanasia policy consistent with that of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Eligible facilities then undergo on-site examinations by TAA inspectors and independent veterinarians.

In early May, the TAA announced that it had accredited its first three aftercare organizations for 2013: Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care in Palm City; New Vocations in Marysville, Ohio; and Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue in Norco.

“We are honored to be among the first aftercare facilities accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance,” Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care Director Barbi Moline said. “The support of the TAA will help ensure that we can continue to give Thoroughbreds the lives they deserve after their racing days are over.”

Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

Mission: To ensure industry-wide funding for accredited organizations that care for Thoroughbreds at the conclusion of their careers.

The organization is designed to serve as both the accrediting body for aftercare facilities that care for Thoroughbreds following the conclusion of their careers and a fundraising body to support these approved facilities.
Location: Lexington, Ky.

Website: thoroughbredaftercare.org

The TAA’s sale fundraising program

◗ Participants include buyers, consignors, and sales companies at Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland Association, Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., and Barretts Equine Ltd.
◗ The four participating sales companies have enabled buyers and consignors to automatically contribute 0.05 percent of their respective purchases or gross sales directly to the TAA, with funds automatically added to bills.
◗ The sales companies also will contribute an additional 0.05 percent of gross receipts.
◗ The sales program is part of efforts designed to establish broad-based funding at every point of a Thoroughbred’s life, spreading the responsibility of aftercare, with no individual group carrying too much of the burden.
◗ Funds raised via this and other mechanisms – such as stud-farm pledges and foal registration fees – will be earmarked for distribution to TAA-accredited facilities.